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EUROPEAN GARDEN HERITAGE NETWORK – EGHN

Blenheim Gardens

Not far from the town centre and seafront of Minehead, there is an unexpected haven of peace and tranquillity – the Blenheim Gardens. The idea of a place which would be quiet and peaceful was in the minds of the designers of Blenheim Gardens.
Nearly a century later, the gardens are still thriving, offering summer concerts and the use of a putting green as well as a wealth of beautiful plants for the enjoyment of garden lovers. Among the displays of flowers are two formal Edwardian displays found at either end of the park and a wide range of specimen trees. Wide walkways twist around lawns and flowerbeds full of bright annuals.

The more modern Burma Star Memorial garden, which is at the furthest corner from the seaside entrance, has a stunning display of herbaceous plants, annual and perennial flowers and ferns. The garden is a tribute to the Somerset Branch of the Burma Star Association, who remembers the men and women who served in Burma during the 1941-5 Pacific War.

The land in this area originally belonged to the de Mohun family, according to the Domesday Book, and they chose nearby Dunster as the site for their castle. Dunster Castle passed into a new family, the Luttrells, who also took over other lands in Minehead. In 1911, the land on which the gardens now stand was bought from Alexander Fowness Luttrell for use by the general public. The gardens were completely redesigned and many new plants and trees introduced and they have now grown into mature parkland of which the original designers would have been proud. More recently, the addition of the Burma Star Memorial Garden has given the gardens a slightly more commemorative feel.

The idea of a place which would be quiet and peaceful was in the minds of the designers of Blenheim Gardens from the first; ball games and cycling were banned on the lawns and footpaths then as they are today. This is one park where this doesn’t seem too unfair to children – after all they have plenty of space to enjoy themselves on the neighbouring seafront and beaches!

Nearly a century later, the gardens are still thriving, offering summer concerts and the use of a putting green as well as a wealth of beautiful plants for the enjoyment of garden lovers. Among the displays of flowers are two formal Edwardian displays found at either end of the park and a wide range of specimen trees. Wide walkways twist around lawns and flowerbeds full of bright annuals. The park is bordered by shrubs and bushes between towering trees and the two formal Edwardian flowerbeds. The smaller of the formal Edwardian beds, at the seafront entrance to the gardens, is planted around a palm tree while the larger garden has ranks of blue, pink and white geraniums and salvias around a striking tropical plant. One feature of almost all the beds in the park is the planting of an ornamental tree in the centre. Another is that, whatever variety of plants are mixed in the displays, almost all beds are bordered by striking white ferns.

The more modern Burma Star Memorial garden, which is at the furthest corner from the seaside entrance, has a stunning display of herbaceous plants, annual and perennial flowers and ferns. The garden is a tribute to the Somerset Branch of the Burma Star Association, who remembers the men and women who served in Burma during the 1941-5 Pacific War.

Perhaps the most striking feature of this park is its amazing range of mature trees. Some of the fine specimens of traditional English trees were inherited by the original designers, but they went on to plant dozens of more unusual trees all over the park – there are now more than fifty different types of tree within the gardens.

Among the trees are a selection of oaks including Quercus ilex (Evergreen oak) Quercus coccinea (Scarlet oak) and Quercus Ruba (Red oak). Other traditional English trees are represented by a selection of birches – Betula pendula (Common birch) and Betula jacquemanti (Himalayan birch) – and a number of beeches including Fagus anplenifolia (Cut leaf beech) and Fagus sylvatica ‘purpuea’ (Purple beech). There is also a large range of maples and fir trees and a varied selection of cedars including the magnificent Cedrus atlantica ‘glaucus’ (Atlas Mountain cedar). There are also a number of ornamental fruit trees including the autumn flowering cherry and strawberry tree. The trees are carefully planted so that they block out the buildings around the park and provide small copses on the lawns, breaking up the formality of the gardens.

 

Address:
Blenheim Gardens
Blenheim Road
Minehead, GB
Somerset
Tel:01984-632291
Email: no
Web site: www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk

Owner/Management:
West Somerset District Council

Opening times:
Open all day. Closes one hour before dusk.

Admission price:
Admission free

Events, exhibitions:
Blenheim boasts a bandstand for summer weekend concerts/brass bands. These events are organised in partnership with ARTLIFE. For dates and calendar of events, see their website https://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/

Customer services:

  • Shop: The café sells toys suitable for children to play with in the garden and postcards.
  • Tea Room/ Restaurant: A traditional style café serves a variety of light lunches as well as pasties, cakes, coffees and teas.
  • WC: There are separate blocks at different corners of the park.
  • Parking: North road public car park backs onto the gardens. Other town centre car parks are only a walk away.
  • Seats and benches – location frequency: Ample bench seating can be found throughout the park. There is a large grass area opposite the bandstand and deckchairs can be hired at the café.
  • Average visitor duration: 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Accessibility – in the park/ garden from the car park: All footpaths are wide, flat and well paved making them perfectly suitable visitors who are hard of walking and wheelchair users.
  • No dogs are allowed apart from guide dogs.

Children’s programme/ events or other educational activities::
A seasonal 18-hole putting course can be found in the park on one of the lawns and a children’s play area is situated by the café.

Maps of sites/ visitor information etc:
A large board at each entrance gate shows the layout of the park and prescribes the bylaws.

Other notes:
No cycling or ball games are allowed in the park.